15 Super Expensive Secondary Schools

Famed actor, Steve Carrell, is a graduate of Middlesex School.
Famed actor, Steve Carrell, is a graduate of Middlesex School.
Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

We decided to put a price on education with the following look at of some of the most expensive secondary schools in the county. All tuition data are from the 2008-09 school year and only schools that welcome day students are included.

1. Lawrenceville School "“ Lawrenceville, NJ

Day School Tuition: $34,680

History: Lawrenceville was founded in 1810 as the Maidenhead Academy and "refounded," according to the school's Web site, as the Lawrenceville School in 1883. It was at that time that the school's famous House system, whereby students are assigned to live in one of 20 residential houses with a resident housemaster and unique identities, was implemented. Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who is most famous for designing Central Park, was responsible for the Lawrenceville campus' circle. The school was all-male until 1987.

Notable: Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah honed his skills for the Big Red in Lawrenceville's basketball gym. The school's other impressive athletic facilities include an indoor ice hockey rink, a nine-hole golf course, 10 squash courts, 12 tennis courts, and a world-class ropes course. The ropes course, designed by an expert in outdoor experiential education, enables students to build trust in one another and confidence in their own abilities.

Course Catalog:

At Lawrenceville, students can learn more about Canada than they ever did from South Park with a history course titled, "Through the Looking Glass: Canada, a Different North America." Many classes at Lawrenceville are taught using the Harkness method, which involves professors sitting around oval tables with their students to facilitate class discussion.

Famous Alumni: Disney mogul Michael Eisner and singer Huey Lewis graduated from Lawrenceville before attending Denison and Cornell, respectively.

2. Concord Academy "“ Concord, MA

Day School Tuition: $34,700

concord.jpgHistory: Concord Academy, or CA as it's commonly known, was established in 1922 as an all-girls school for grades 1 through 12. Enrollment during CA's early years was small "“ only 20 students graduated in the class of 1948 "“ but grew as the institution transitioned into an independent high school. CA became coed in 1971 and today boasts an enrollment of 367 students, less than half of whom live on campus.

Notable: The chameleon, CA's symbol of adaptability, has been associated with the school for more than 80 years. It has been adopted as the mascot for CA's 23 athletic teams and is engraved on the class ring. It is also the namesake for CA's literary magazine.

Course Catalog: In the spring of 2010, CA will offer a new course titled, "Latin American Literature: Magical Realities." The course will examine the works of the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges. The course fills the void left by another English course, "Gay Literature: In and Out and In-Between," which was originally scheduled to be offered but is crossed out in the current version of the online course catalog. The first Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) was formed at Concord Academy in 1988 by teacher Kevin Jennings.

Famous Alumni: In addition to author Julia Glass and Caroline Kennedy, CA's list of graduates includes a queen and a "Juice Guy." Queen Noor of Jordan and Tom First, one of the founders of Nantucket Nectars, both attended Concord.

3. Middlesex School "“ Concord, MA

Day School Tuition: $34,250

middlesex.jpgHistory: Middlesex was opened as an all-boys school in 1901 by Frederick Winsor, who hoped to "find the promise that lies hidden" in every student. Winsor helped establish the National Scholarship Program, which the school claims was the first of its kind for a secondary school. While Middlesex, which became coed in 1974, used to be closely affiliated with Harvard, its graduates now attend a variety of colleges and universities. The school's campus was designed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted.

Notable: The 1992 movie School Ties, the story of a Jewish boy at an elite prep school during the 1950s, was filmed at Middlesex. The movie stars Brendan Fraser, Chris O'Donnell, and Matt Damon. Of the three, Damon is the only one who attended a public high school.

Course Catalog: In addition to interest-piquing courses such as "Mystery in Literature" and "Biomedical Ethics," students may enroll in "CSI: Middlesex, Introduction to Forensics." Lab activities will accompany each topic, which may include fingerprinting, DNA analysis, toxicology, and blood splatter analysis.

Famous Alumni: Bill Richardson, William Hurt, and Steve Carell all attended Middlesex. Before The Office became one of the most popular shows on television, Carell said that his backup plan was to teach high school history and coach a few sports at a New England prep school. Having Michael Scott as your history teacher might be worth the price of admission.

4. Milton Academy "“ Milton, MA

Day School Tuition: $33,150

milton-academy.jpgHistory: Milton Academy was founded in 1798 with the goal to "open the way for all the people to a higher order of education than the common schools can supply." After celebrating its centennial, Milton Academy divided into separate boys and girls schools. The school eventually returned to its coed roots and today boasts an equal number of boys and girls among its 680 students.

Notable: Every other year since 1977, Milton Academy has hosted a Seminar Day, when it invites local and international experts in a variety of fields to come to campus and speak to students. Recent guests have included lawyer Alan Dershowitz and editorial cartoonist Dan Wasserman.

Course Catalog: Sometimes learning how not to do something is just as effective as learning the correct way. That seems to be the logic behind the course, "Engineering for Failure: Structures and Their Demise." As part of the course, students will build various structures and test them to the point of failure.

Famous Alumni: T.S. Eliot graduated from Milton Academy in 1906, while Robert F. Kennedy attended the school for one year.

5. Lawrence Academy "“ Groton, MA

Day School Tuition: $33,900

lawrence-acad.jpgHistory: Lawrence Academy was chartered by Gov. John Hancock and founded in 1793. The school's main building burned down on July 4, 1868, as the result of a fire started by boys who were playing with firecrackers, and the school suffered extensive damage in a second fire that erupted during baccalaureate services in 1956. Lawrence Academy was coed from the time of its founding until 1898, when it transitioned to an all-boys school. The school, which became coed again in 1971, has an enrollment of roughly 400 students.

Notable: During the fall, students wear costumes and compete for bragging rights in the 2-on-2 Bos'n Ball soccer tournament, which was created by the boys' varsity soccer team to honor Bos'n, a faculty member's dog, who was struck and killed by a car.

Course Catalog: Insect lovers will jump at the chance to sign up for Lawrence Academy's entomology course, which explores insects' various effects "“ both good and bad "“ on the world. Through laboratory investigations, field experiences, and class discussions, students will learn how to collect and identify the major groups of insects.

Famous Alumni: Lawyer Jim Sokolove, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, and Phish keyboardist Page McConnell all attended Lawrence Academy.

6. Groton School "“ Groton, MA

Day School Tuition: $33,260

groton.jpgHistory: Groton, a coed school of nearly 400 students, was founded in 1884 by Rev. Endicott Peabody, who attended Cheltenham College in England. In 2007, the school's Trustees voted to offer admission free to students whose family income is less than $75,000.

Notable: A good first impression can be made with a firm handshake, and at Groton, students receive plenty of practice. Each student shakes the hand of his or her dorm head every day, a tradition that dates back to the school's founding.

Course Catalog: One of the more unique courses offered at the Groton School is an ethics course titled, "C.S. Lewis and the Problem of Evil." Through readings of such works as The Chronicles of Narnia, the class will attempt to define evil and explain how it exists and operates.

Famous Alumni: Former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, FDR, and Curtis Sittenfeld, the author of Prep, attended Groton.

7. Hotchkiss School "“ Lakeville, CT

Day School Tuition: $34,250

hotchkiss.jpgHistory: Maria Harrison Bissell Hotchkiss founded The Hotchkiss School in 1891 as an all-boys preparatory school for Yale. The school became coed in 1971 and the number of males and females attending Hotchkiss today is roughly equal.

Notable: The school places great emphasis on connecting its students to the world abroad. Hotchkiss began recruiting students from China in 1912, while Forrest Mars, a Hotchkiss graduate and the grandson of the Mars candy bar creator, has sponsored two student trips to Antarctica.

Course Catalog: "Gender and International Development," an economics course, seeks to answer the question of whether equality between the sexes is linked to economic growth. Physics students compete in the annual Cardboard Boat Regatta, in which participants build two-person boats out of five sheets of corrugated cardboard and two rolls of masking tape.

Famous Alumni: Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, the eventual founders of Time magazine, met while working on the school newspaper at Hotchkiss.

8. Phillips Andover Academy "“ Andover, MA

Day School Tuition: $30,500

school-8.jpgHistory: Phillips Academy was established in 1778 as an all-boys school and is the country's oldest incorporated boarding school. The motto non sibi, meaning "not for self," was forged into Phillips Andover Academy's seal in 1782 by Paul Revere. Today, the school has more than 1,000 students with a student-teacher ratio of 5 to 1.

Notable: Most high school students take field trips to art galleries. At Andover, two large collections are mere footsteps away. The Addison Gallery of American Art features an extensive collection by such artists as Winslow Homer and Georgia O'Keefe. The neighboring Peabody Museum of Archaeology houses a collection of more than 500,000 artifacts related to Native American cultures. The museum staff leads students on excavation projects at dig sites throughout North America several times a year.

Course: Among the 300 different courses and 150 electives that students may take at Andover is the psychology course, "The Brain and You: A Users Guide."

Famous Alumni: Perhaps the notorious cut-off sweatshirt that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wears on the sidelines is his way of rebelling against the more formal attire he was required to wear as a student at Andover. Other famous graduates include George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, actress Dana Delany, JFK Jr., Peter Sellers, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder.

9. Phillips Exeter Academy "“ Exeter, NH

Day School Tuition: $29,330

exeter.jpgHistory: Phillips Exeter Academy was founded in 1781 by Harvard graduate John Phillips, the uncle of Andover Academy founder Samuel Phillips. The school became coed in 1970. Exeter's huge endowment reached $1 billion in 2007, but has since dipped to around $700 million.

Notable: Exeter devotes about $60,000 a year to each of its students, which includes maintaining the Class of 1945 Library, the largest secondary school library in the world with more than 150,000 volumes.

Course Catalog: Through case studies of countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, students tackle an important question in the course, "Why Are Poor Nations Poor?"

Famous Alumni: Daniel Webster, Franklin Pierce, Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and CNBC anchor Trish Regan are but a few of Exeter's famous graduates.

10. Kent School "“ Kent, CT

Day School Tuition: $34,500

kent.jpgHistory: The Kent School was founded as an all-boys school in 1906 by Rev. Frederick Herbert Sill, an Episcopal monk and Columbia graduate who believed there was a connection between intellectual effort and spiritual reward. Kent, which was the first secondary school in the country to charge tuition on a sliding scale, became coed in 1960.

Notable: While its values and mission have remained constant, the Kent School prides itself on innovation. The school began providing tablet PCs to every student and teacher in 1995 as one of the 29 pioneering schools of the Anytime, Anywhere Learning Program.

Course Catalog: Kent offers a number of interesting English courses, including "The Ghost Story" and "Micro Fiction," in which students read and write stories that are no longer than 55 words.

Famous Alumni: KT Tunstall formed her first band, "The Happy Campers," while attending Kent School on a scholarship. Actor Ted Danson and director Peter Farrelly are among the other famous graduates of the school.

11. Cambridge School of Weston "“ Weston, MA

Day School Tuition: $32,500

weston.jpgHistory: While its roots date back to the founding of the Cambridge School for Girls in 1886, the school moved to Weston and reopened under its current name with a class of 106 students in 1931.

Notable: The Lab System was instituted during the school's first year in Weston. Under the system, students chose an academic area to study for 2 hours at the beginning of each day as teachers provide guidance. That same year, students constructed the Hobby House, a space for the school's woodworking classes. Today, the Hobby House is used as the Admissions and Development Building.

Course Catalog: Among the new additions to CSW's curriculum of more than 300 courses for 2009-10 is "Art of Prediction," a history course that explores the establishment of a new world-view from the time of the Scientific Revolution through the development of an atomic bomb.

Famous Alumni: Helen Keller studied for one year at the school in 1896, while Paul Glaser, who played detective David Starsky in the '70 television show Starsky and Hutch, attended CSW before pursuing his undergraduate degree at Tulane.

12. Miss Porter's School "“ Farmington, CT

Day School Tuition: $31,850

miss-porter.jpgHistory: Sarah Porter, the scholarly daughter of a Farmington minister, was tutored by Yale professors as a young woman and founded Miss Porter's School in 1843. In addition to a rigorous curriculum, Porter demanded that her students remain physically active; to that end, the school formed a baseball team in 1867. Following Porter's death in 1900, her nephew and his wife took control of the school, which was incorporated as a non-profit institution in 1943. Today, the school boasts more than 300 students.

Notable: In keeping with the school's dedication to service, all students who enter the school as freshmen and sophomores must complete 20 hours of community service before they graduate. Students who enter as juniors and seniors must complete at least 10 hours. All-Star awards are given to seniors who complete over 100 hours of community service.

Course Catalog: Miss Porter's School has long placed great emphasis on the arts, and it shows in the school's course offerings. While newspapers as we know them may be dying, students enrolled in "The Living Newspaper" research, write, and perform original plays based on current events.

Famous Alumni: Ruth Hanna McCormick, the first woman elected to Congress from Illinois, graduated from Miss Porter's School in 1897. Fifty years later, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis earned her degree. More recently, Heather Lynch, the director of public relations for J. Crew, took part in the traditional hanging of the daisy wreath at commencement.

13. Governor's Academy "“ Byfield, MA

Day School Tuition: $32,600

school-10.jpgHistory: The Governor's Academy, which was established as the Dumm'r Charity School in 1763 and was later known as Governor Dummer Academy, is the country's oldest continuously operating boarding school. Originally named after Massachusetts Governor William Dummer, the school's name was changed to The Governor's Academy in 2005. The campus includes an archives room, which houses the Document of Incorporation of Dummer Academy, which was signed by John Hancock and Samuel Adams in 1782. Today, the school is coed and has an enrollment of nearly 400 students.

Notable: The school's 500-acre campus outside of Boston hosts the Massachusetts Special Olympics Fall Soccer Tournament every year. Governor's Academy students help run the event by arranging the opening ceremonies, organizing public relations activities, registering the more than 800 athletes, and overseeing games during the round-robin tournament.

Course Catalog: In "Children's Literature," students will take an academic view of classics such as Charlotte's Web and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. For their final project, students will be required to produce an original piece of children's literature that will be shared with the faculty's young children. Perhaps those children should determine each student's grade, too.

Famous Alumni: Booker T. Washington, Jr., played on the football team, while Theophilus Parsons, a Chief Justice of Massachusetts and author of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, also attended the school.

14. Hill School "“ Pottstown, PA

Day School Tuition: $29,000

potts.jpgHistory: The Hill School was founded in 1851 by Rev. Matthew Meigs as the "Family Boarding School for Boys and Young Men" and remained an all-boys school until 1998. Student enrollment has traditionally been around 500 students; the school's official song is called "A Thousand Hands."

Notable: One of the many traditions at Hill School is the J-Ball tournament held each spring. J-Ball is short for Javelin Ball, a game created by Hill School students that combines tennis with baseball. The game is played on a baseball field, but players use tennis racquets instead of bats and tennis balls instead of baseballs. Only one player on each team is allowed to use a glove.

Course Catalog: Students enrolled in the school's "Fine Woodworking" class in the fall will design and build a custom skateboard deck with paint and graphics for their class project. Students who take the course in the winter and spring will build a fully functional glass-bottomed canoe.

Famous Alumni: Legendary Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who coined the term "Super Bowl," Oliver Stone, and Donald Trump, Jr. attended Hill School.

15. Dana Hall "“ Wellesley, MA

Day School Tuition: $33,981

dana-hall.jpgHistory: Dana Hall opened in 1881 as an all-girls preparatory school for Wellesley College. The first class of 18 students paid $325 for board and tuition.

Notable: Dana Hall has an equestrian team and students are welcome to board their own horses in the school's 45-stall Riding Center. The school provides veterinarian and blacksmith care for the horses, as well as private, semi-private, and group riding lessons for students.

Course Catalog: Through English readings of classical texts, students enrolled in "Women in the Classical World" take a closer look at how Greek and Roman attitudes toward women helped shape Americans' view of women today. The third trimester of the class is devoted to independent research projects related to material presented in the course.

Famous Alumni: Cynthia Voigt, an author of numerous young adult books, and Nina Garcia, former editor of Elle magazine and a judge on Project Runway, both attended Dana Hall.

15 Facts About the Bill of Rights

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iStock.com/LPETTET

December 15 is Bill of Rights Day, so let's celebrate by exploring the amendments that helped shape America.

1. IT OWES A LOT TO MAGNA CARTA.

Magna Carta
The seal of Magna Carta.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Some of the sentiments in our bill of rights are at least 800 years old. In 1215, King John of England had a serious uprising on his hands. For many years, discontentment festered among his barons, many of whom loathed the King and his sky-high taxes. On May 17, a rebellious faction led by Robert Fitzwalter captured London, forcing John to negotiate.

Their talks produced one of the most significant legal documents ever written. The King and his barons composed a 63-clause agreement which would—ostensibly—impose certain limits on royal rule. Among these laws, the best-known gave English noblemen the right to a fair trial. They called their groundbreaking peace treaty Magna Carta, or "The Great Charter."

The original version didn't last long, though. John persuaded Pope Innocent III to invalidate the document and, within three months, His Holiness did just that. The next year, King John's 9-year-old son, King Henry III, issued an abridged version of Magna Carta to appease the barons, and in 1225 enforced a new and revised Magna Carta. Today, citizens of the U.K. are protected by three of the 1225 version's clauses, such as the aforementioned right to a trial by jury.

Magna Carta's influence has also extended far beyond Britain. Across the Atlantic, its language flows through the U.S. Constitution. Over half of the articles in America's Bill of Rights are directly or indirectly descended from clauses in said charter. For instance, the Fifth Amendment guarantees that "private property shall not be taken for public use, without just compensation." Article 28 of Magna Carta makes a similar statement about the seizure of "corn or other goods."

2. ANOTHER BIG INFLUENCE WAS THE ENGLISH BILL OF RIGHTS.

An engraving showing the English Bill of Rights being presented to William and Mary (William III of England and Mary II of England), 1689.
An engraving showing the English Bill of Rights being presented to William and Mary (William III of England and Mary II of England), 1689.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Issued in 1689, this Parliamentary Act made several guarantees that were later echoed by the first 10 U.S. constitutional amendments. For instance, the English Bill of Rights forbids "cruel and unusual punishments" while ensuring the "right of the subjects to petition the king."

3. THE U.S. VERSION WAS CHAMPIONED BY AN OFT-IGNORED FOUNDING FATHER.

George Mason
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

There's a decent chance that you've never heard of George Mason. By founding father standards, this Virginian has been largely overlooked. But if it weren't for Mason, the Constitution might have never been given its venerated Bill of Rights.

Back in 1776, Mason was part of a committee that drafted Virginia's Declaration of Rights. "[All] men," the finished product said, "are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent rights … namely the enjoyment of life and liberty." Sound familiar? It should. As everybody knows, Thomas Jefferson would write another, more famous declaration that year. When he did so, he was heavily influenced by the document Mason spearheaded.

Fast-forward to 1787. With the Constitutional Convention wrapping up in Philadelphia, Mason argued that a bill of inalienable rights should be added. This idea was flatly rejected by the State Delegates. So, in protest, Mason refused to sign the completed Constitution.

4. MASON FOUND AN ALLY IN THE "GERRY" OF "GERRYMANDERING."

portrait of Elbridge Gerry
NYPL, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

At the convention, the motion to include a bill of rights wasn't made by Mason, although he seconded it. Instead, credit belongs to one Elbridge Gerry, who had also withheld his signature from the Constitution. He'd go on to become a notorious figure during his tenure as the governor of Massachusetts. A staunch Democratic-Republican, Gerry was governor during the blatantly partisan re-drawing of the Bay State's congressional districts. These days, we call this unfair political maneuver "gerrymandering."

5. THOMAS JEFFERSON WAS A HUGE PROPONENT …

portrait of Thomas Jefferson
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The Sage of Monticello sided with Mason. Following the Constitution's approval, Jefferson offered a few comments to his friend James Madison (whom history has called its father). "I do not like … the omission of a bill of rights," he wrote. "Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth."

6. … AND SO WAS JOHN ADAMS.

John Adams
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Adams was away in Great Britain when the Constitution was being created. Upon reading its contents, he proclaimed that "A Declaration of Rights I Wish to see with all my heart, though I am sensible of the Difficulty in framing one, in which all the States can agree."

7. AT FIRST, JAMES MADISON THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD BE USELESS.

James Madison
National Archive/Newsmakers

From the onset, this future president admired the principle behind a bill of rights. Still, he initially saw no point in creating one. Madison explained his position to Jefferson in October 1788, writing, "My own opinion has always been in favor of a bill of rights … At the same time, I have never thought [its] omission a material defect." But Madison eventually changed his tune. After becoming a congressman in 1789, he formally introduced the amendments that would comprise the current bill of rights.

8. BEFORE HE COULD INTRODUCE THE BILL OF RIGHTS, MADISON HAD TO DEFEAT JAMES MONROE.

James Monroe
James Monroe
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Madison won his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives after running against the man who would become his Oval Office successor. Both candidates acted with civility: While on the campaign trail, they regularly dined together and even shared sleeping quarters.

9. CONGRESS PASSED 12 AMENDMENTS, BUT TWO WERE LATER EXCLUDED.

Declaration of Independence signatures
iStock.com/fstop123

Originally, Representative Madison presented 19 amendments. On August 24, 1789, the House green-lit 17 of them. That September, the Senate made some heavy edits, trimming these down to an even dozen, which the states then looked over. In the end, numbers three through 12 were approved and collectively became our Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.

10. AN UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT GOT ONE OF THOSE AXED AMENDMENTS RATIFIED IN 1992.

Bill of Rights
iStock.com/leezsnow

Better late than never. The second proposed amendment would have restricted Congress' ability to give itself a pay raise or cut. No law that tweaked the salaries of its members would take effect until after the next Congress had begun. Sensible as this idea sounds, the amendment wasn't ratified by the required three-fourths majority of U.S. states. So, for 202 years, it was stuck in limbo.

Enter Gregory Watson. His rollercoaster-like journey with the dormant proposal began in 1982. Then a student at the University of Texas, Watson was researching a term paper when he discovered this Congressional Pay Amendment. As he dug deeper, the undergrad found that it was still “technically pending before state legislatures.”

So Watson mounted an aggressive letter-writing campaign. Thanks to his urging, state after state finally ratified the amendment until, at last, over 38 had done so. After a bit of legal wrangling with Congress, on May 20, 1992, the constitution was updated to include it as the 27th (and most recent) amendment. (Watson, by the way, got a C on that term paper.)

11. SOME OF THE ORIGINAL COPIES WERE PROBABLY DESTROYED.

Original Bill of Rights
National Archives and Records Administration, WIkimedia Commons // Public Domain

During his first term, President Washington and Congress had 14 official handwritten replicas of the Bill of Rights made. At present, two are conspicuously unaccounted for.

One copy was retained by the federal government while the rest were sent off to the 11 states as well as Rhode Island and North Carolina, which had yet to ratify. Subsequently, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and Georgia all lost theirs somehow. It's believed that the Empire State's was burned in a 1911 fire while Georgia’s likely went up in smoke during the Civil War.

In 1945, a long-lost original copy—experts aren't sure which—was gifted to the Library of Congress. Forty-nine years earlier, the New York Public Library had obtained another. Because it's widely believed that this one originally belonged to Pennsylvania, the document is currently being shared between the Keystone State and the NYPL until 2020, when New York will have it for 60 percent of the time and Pennsylvania for the rest.

12. NORTH CAROLINA'S COPY MAY HAVE BEEN STOLEN BY A CIVIL WAR SOLDIER.

General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1865.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1865.
National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

During the spring of 1865, Raleigh was firmly under the control of pro-Union troops. According to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's office in that city, "Sometime during the occupation, a soldier in Gen. William Sherman's army allegedly took North Carolina's copy of the Bill of rights [from the state capitol] and carried it away."

Afterward, it changed hands several times and eventually came into antique dealer Wayne Pratt's possession. When the FBI learned of his plan to sell the priceless parchment, operatives seized it. In 2007, the copy went on a well-publicized tour of North Carolina before returning to Raleigh—hopefully for good.

13. THREE STATES DIDN'T RATIFY IT UNTIL 1939.

amendments
iStock.com/zimmytws

To celebrate the Constitution's 150th anniversary, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia formally gave the Bill of Rights the approval they'd withheld for well over a century.

14. THE BILL OF RIGHTS'S LEAST-LITIGATED AMENDMENT IS THE THIRD.

1st amendment at Independence Hall
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Thanks to this one, soldiers cannot legally be quartered inside your home without your consent. Since colonial Americans had lived in fear of being suddenly forced to house and feed British troops, the amendment was warmly received during the late 1700s. Today, however, it's rarely invoked. As of this writing, the Supreme Court has never based a decision upon it, so the American Bar Association once called this amendment the "runt piglet" of the constitution.

15. BILL OF RIGHTS DAY DATES BACK TO 1941.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Central Press/Getty Images

On November 27, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt urged America's citizenry to celebrate December 15 as "Bill of Rights Day" in honor of its anniversary:

"I call upon the officials of the Government, and upon the people of the United States, to observe the day by displaying the flag of the United States on public buildings and by meeting together for such prayers and such ceremonies as may seem to them appropriate."

"It is especially fitting," he added, "that this anniversary should be remembered and observed by those institutions of a democratic people which owe their very existence to the guarantees of the Bill of Rights: the free schools, the free churches, the labor unions, the religious and educational and civic organizations of all kinds which, without the guarantee of the Bill of Rights, could never have existed; which sicken and disappear whenever, in any country, these rights are curtailed or withdrawn."

This story first ran in 2015.

8 Proper Facts About Jane Austen

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

More than 200 years after her death, English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817) continues to be celebrated for her sharp, biting prose on love's various entanglements. The strong female characters in books like Pride and Prejudice and Emma are as resonant today as when Austen first pressed her pen to paper. Though her bibliography totals just six novels (alongside some unfinished novels and other works) in all, Austen's books and her insightful quotes have been subject to hundreds of years of analysis and—for the Austen die-hards—numerous re-readings. For more on the writer's life, influences, and curious editing habits, take a look at our compendium of all things Austen below.

1. Austen's dad did everything he could to help her succeed.

Austen was born in Steventon, Hampshire, England on December 16, 1775 to George Austen, a rector, and Cassandra Austen. The second-youngest in a brood of eight kids, Austen developed a love for the written word partially as a result of George's vast home library. When she wasn't reading, Austen was supplied with writing tools by George to nurture her interests along. Later, George would send his daughters to a boarding school to further their education. When Austen penned First Impressions, the book that would become Pride and Prejudice, in 1797, a proud George took it to a London publisher named Thomas Cadell for review. Cadell rejected it unread. It's not clear if Jane was even aware that George approached Cadell on her behalf.

Much later, in 1810, her brother Henry would act as her literary agent, selling Sense and Sensibility to London publisher Thomas Egerton.

2. Her works were published anonymously.

From Sense and Sensibility through Emma, Austen's published works never bore her name. Sense and Sensibility carried the byline of "A Lady," while later works like Pride and Prejudice featured credits like, "By the Author of Sense and Sensibility." It's likely Austen chose anonymity because female novelists were frowned upon for having selected what was viewed at the time as a potentially lewd, male-dominated pursuit. If she was interrupted while writing, she would quickly conceal her papers to avoid being asked about her work. Austen was first identified in print following her death in 1817; her brother Henry wrote a eulogy to accompany the posthumous publications of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

3. She backed out of a marriage of convenience.

Many of Austen's characters carry great agency in their lives, and Austen scholars enjoy pointing to the fact that Austen herself bucked convention when it came to affairs of the heart. The year after her family's move to the city of Bath in 1801, Austen received a proposal of marriage from Harris Bigg-Wither, a financially prosperous childhood friend. Austen accepted but quickly had second thoughts. Though his money would have provided for her and her family (and, at the time, she was 27 and unpublished, meaning she had no outside income and was fast approaching Georgian-era spinster status), Austen decided that a union motivated on her part by economics wasn't worthwhile. She turned the proposal down the following day and later cautioned her niece about marrying for any reason other than love. "Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection," she wrote.

4. She took a decade off.

Because so little of Austen's writing outside of her novels survives—her sister, Cassandra, purportedly destroyed much of her correspondence in an effort to keep some of Austen's scathing opinions away from polite society—it can be hard to assign motivations or emotions to some of her major milestones in life. But one thing appears clear: When her family moved to Bath and subsequently kept relocating following her father's death in 1805, Austen's writing habits were severely disrupted. Once prolific—she completed three of her novels by 1801—a lack of a routine kept her from producing work for roughly 10 years. It wasn't until she felt her home life was stable after moving into property owned by her brother, Edward, that Austen resumed her career.

5. She used straight pins to edit her manuscripts.

Austen had none of the advancements that would go on to make a writer's life easier, like typewriters, computers, or Starbucks. In at least one case, her manuscript edits were accomplished using the time-consuming and prickly method of straight pins. For an unfinished novel titled The Watsons, Austen took the pins and used them to fasten revisions to the pages of areas that were in need of correction or rewrites. The practice dates back to the 17th century.

6. She was an accomplished home brewer.

In Austen's time, beer was the drink of choice, and like the rest of her family, Austen could brew her own beer. Her specialty was spruce beer, which was made with molasses for a slightly sweeter taste.

Austen was also a fan of making mead—she once lamented to her sister, "there is no honey this year. Bad news for us. We must husband our present stock of mead, and I am sorry to perceive that our twenty gallons is very nearly out. I cannot comprehend how the fourteen gallons could last so long."

7. Some believe Austen's death was a result of being poisoned.

Austen lived to see only four of her six novels published. She died on July 18, 1817 at the age of 41 following complaints of symptoms that medical historians have long felt pointed to Addison's disease or Hodgkin's lymphoma. In 2017, the British Library floated a different theory—that Austen was poisoned by arsenic in her drinking water due to a polluted supply or possibly accidental ingestion due to mismanaged medication. The Library put forth the idea based on Austen's notoriously poor eyesight (which they say may have been the result of cataracts) as well as her written complaint of skin discoloration. Both can be indicative of arsenic exposure. Critics of the theory say the evidence is scant and that there is equal reason to believe a disease was the cause of her death.

8. She's been cited in at least 27 written court decisions.

As Matthew Birkhold of Electric Lit points out, judges seem to have a bit of a preoccupation with the works of Austen. Birkhold found 27 instances of a judge's written ruling invoking the name or words of the author, joining a rather exclusive club of female writers who tend to pop up in judicial decisions. (Harper Lee and Mary Shelley round out the top three.) According to Birkhold, jurists often use Austen as a kind of shorthand to explain matters involving relationships or class distinctions. Half of the decisions used the opening line from Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." The sentence is often rewritten to reflect the specifics of a case: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a recently widowed woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an estate planner," as one 2008 tax court case put it.

Others invoke characters like Fitzwilliam Darcy to compare or contrast the litigant's romantic situation. In most cases, the intent is clear, with authors realizing that their readers consider Austen's name synonymous with literary—and hopefully judicial—wisdom.

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